I am moved by Lady Percy 's expression of love. CLICK HERE - see if you agree.
Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
I re-comment on comments and re-re-re-comment on re-re-comments.
* One exception: short stories.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Bet it's bad for you

Does any pleasure come without cost?

Sex - think of the risks.
Boozing - prolonged poisoning.
Admiring beauty - flirting with envy.
Learning - filling in an admitted hole.
Passing on skills - showing off.
Creating music - enduring the errors.
Reading - sensing muscles melt.
Watching movies - produced to make money.
Listening to music - the frustration of the inexplicable.
Travel - re-creating that which one's escaping from.
Doing good works - while questioning one's motives.
DIY - a botch that denies others employment.
Sport - the pretence that futile action is important.
Writing poetry - whispering inaudibly to the deaf.
Speaking a foreign language - mostly getting it wrong.
Parenthood - "Sharper than a serpent's tooth..."

I wonder about intentionally wasting time, ie, playing Solitaire. I see it as entering a tranquil state which neither harms me nor anyone else. After all, I'm pretty sure the alternative, in my case, is not improving the world. I may even be marginally more attractive playing Solitaire and thus not talking. But my unproductivity may irritate those who are forced to work.

Preferring to eat imaginative food. A pretty specialised preference. OK provided one doesn't talk about it; even more so, not proselytise.

Science is a great pleasure but possibly because it separates me from the "eng. lit. only" brigade. I can't decide whether being above average height pleases me; perhaps it might if it became: "Not being small".

Sleeping? A nothingness. Can defeatism be OK?

Kubla Khan decreed a pleasure dome but didn't say what a ticket cost.


  1. I'm going to begin calling you Robbie-Sensei. These are spot on. (Well, except for the boozing, beer isn't really considered booze, right?)

    Now Solitaire cards (or as I know them 'Patience-Karten') are anything but wasting time. Meine liebe Oma Gretel hat immer gespielt. I have her deck. It's in a pale pink box with a dragon pictured on one side. Whenever she brought them out and played on the grand table in the dining room, I would stop what I was doing and would sit catty-cornered to her. As a little girl, I couldn't put my finger on it, but I knew something important was happening before my very eyes. We both sat in silence. Utter silence.

    Much later, when I was older, I asked her why she would play Patience. She explained to me that those were the times she needed to meditate on some issue, and that it was the only time I was still and quiet.

    For the longest time I believed that one only had one pass through the deck. I still play it that way.

  2. Cost of a ticket to Coleridge's pleasure dome? Enough to buy a decent dose of opium, I guess!

    That would probably buy you entrance to anything you desired. (Not speaking from experience, by the way.)

  3. RW (sS): I see that the literal meaning of "sensei" is "person born before another". Which is true of course, though not terribly interesting. The more colloquial meaning is "martial arts teacher" which is highly unlikely. It can also mean "author" so I'll take that to be going on with.

    As to boozing there are differences of opinion across the Atlantic. The following (US) exchange has always amused me:

    A: Do you wanna drink?
    B: I'm not drinking, gimme a beer.

    However I think booze (the noun) in the UK is now taken to mean what you would call hard liquor so we're gradually achieving parity. The sentence "I'm going down to the boozer." in the UK refers to the pub and the main reason for going there (the only reason for me) is to drink beer.

    I'm delighted I've helped reinforce the bridge between you and Oma. I know how important she was to you. There's a further link between us. I used to refer to it as Patience before I got a computer.

    Avus: Says he, carefully sliding in the poet's name (which I had equally carefully left out), not wishing for anyone to think he wasn't up to the mark in the eng. lit. bluffing game. Frequently I see myself in you, young man.

    This post is less about the pleasure than its cost. And in this instance we all know that cost centres on the person from Porlock. What was never disclosed is why PfP came a'calling. Me, I'd run a mile rather than drop in on a poetical druggie. Fearing he would mumble interminably. Most likely PfP had a bill that needed paying.

    Further on the matter of cost I like to think you have unwittingly put your finger on it. With everything your heart desired to choose from, you might well have ended up with nothing, like the dog with the bone seeing its reflection

  4. I can't really see that post-menopausal sex between long-term faithful spouses carries many risks, other than the dog jumping on the bed in the middle of it. But that list really is a very fine one, 'sport' being my favourite, a companion to an Ab-fab line about 'Sports Personality of the Year, sounds like a contradiction in terms.'

    I haven't been able to have anything to do with cards for most of my life; what started as mild disinclination has blossomed into full blown loathing of the sight of the things, which I sometimes regret as, like having zero interest in sport, it's a bit of a social handicap. I used to be able to play boule a little.

  5. Lucy: Post-menopausal sex is a great counter but in the end faulty; surely it evokes comparisons. But oh, there's a flavour to your response which speaks of another time; when this sort of thing was happening weekly. Posts about nothing took to the air waves, and replies about nothing came winging back. All done with a self-conscious sense of style which should have been condemned as kitsch but somehow escaped this charge. Obviously part of Le regle de jeu. Tone Deaf combined with Works Well is now eight years old and, to quote S J Perelman, its arteries are "cracking like pipestems".

    I should have said: Solitaire as played in Windows. With cards the shuffling and dealing become a labour and the mindlessness, alas, becomes mindful.

    As before, with another list, I was trying to be unambitiously aphoristic and was quite proud of Sport. But that was before I knew of the Ab Fab version. Well remembered.

    Yes I can imagine you playing boules. How often, drinking pastis, have I watched argumentative old men at it, among the plane trees. But then the game is as much about conversation as competition, and you've more than a grain of talent for that. Bless.

  6. Pretty soon you will be writing a sort of devil's dictionary like Bierce. A whisper inaudible to the deaf is a pretty interesting definition for poetry. Luckily there are a few stray souls with ears to hear.

    Ambrose Bierce: POETRY, n. A form of expression peculiar to the Land beyond the Magazines.

  7. Marly: I owned Bierce's dictionary for several years. But echoing your veiled suggestion about the white plate ("plates can get broken"), I think I allowed it to get lost. Terrific fun in small chunks but the cumulative effect was quite alarming. I was born a cynic and journalism helped that seedling to flourish. Neverthless, twenty pages of Bierce had me Googling the cost of a long weekend's retreat in a monastery: the whole bundle - compline at 3 am, hard floors beneath rheumaticky knees. Gosh, I feel such wimp, such a blue nose admitting this yet there may a good side, proof I'm not wholly debauched.

    Which is not to say I didn't welcome your tangential comment. Bierce had terrific imagination and I'm flattered by the association.

    My condensed view of poetry was, in effect, that commercial constraints make it hard to get a hearing and the huge majority simply doesn't care. But this didn't stop me trying my hand and being able to dwell thereafter on three or four lines in about fifty sonnets. With you the instinct was of course far stronger and it shows.